Health Law Helper
How will the law affect me?
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51% of Americans are confused about how the new health law affects them
20 MILLION People can get financial help to pay for health insurance
$20,000 for a broken leg; $30,000 to have a baby; $125,000 for breast cancer; Without Insurance Healthcare is Expensive
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See how the new health care law is affecting people like you.
Age:54, Buy on my own, WA, USA My wife and I are self employed and buy our own coverage for our family of four. The health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, by far, represent our largest yearly expense ($13,600), and that's with additional $1,000 deductibles for each family member, up to a $3,000 total maximum. We are all "healthy," but reserve visiting the doctor unless there is an unavoidable and urgent need. My wife and I abstain from many preventative care screenings so that we can give priority to our son and daughter, in case they need care. I am cautiously optimistic about the potential that my family will be eligible for discounted insurance through the exchange beginning in January.Eric H. Age:62, Buy on my own, WA, USA I do have health insurance, purchased on my own, since I have been unemployed for almost five years now. (I am starting my own business now.) Once my COBRA ended from my last employer, we have found health insurance premiums to be very high for our financial situation. However, we felt I needed at least 'catastrophic' insurance. (Not eligible for Medicare for three more years.) The end of last year we found the HCC Life Short Term Medical Plan, for use in Washington state. The policy is for only 11 months at a time, $2,500 deductible, then pays 80 percent coinsurance after the deductible for the next $5,000 of medical expenses then the coverage is 100 percent to the maximum limit of two million dollars. (This is better than any others we found.) This policy can be renewed each 11 months, but excludes anything that shows up during each period, forever after that. So that, in and of itself, adds stress! I am very healthy, on NO medications at all. I basically have this for 'catastrophic' protection. Yet the cost is $303.54 per month for the 11 months. Thanks for your help, Consumer Reports!
Age:49, None, WA, USA I'm 49 years old and have been unemployed for a year. Prior to this unemployment, I was a contractor so I had to find a personal policy. The best I could do was over $400 a month which was not affordable after paying rent and other bills. Right now, I cross my fingers and use a health center that offers a payment plan. I am lucky to have a family that supports me when they can, but it's scary and stressful. I am getting ready to apply for Medicaid, and thanks to the expansion of the Medicaid program in Washington state, I should be able to get coverage very soon.
Age:61, Former Employer, CA, USA"I've been self-employed (not by choice) in my profession for 15 years and have relied on my wife's employer's health insurance coverage. In February of this year, my wife had to leave her job of 37 years on a medical disability her job literally wore her out. Her employer was very supportive and had continued paying my wife's medical coverage, but that ended in June 2013. Since we've been rejected by four health insurance companies due to pre-existing conditions, we have to go on to COBRA. At least it's available but at $1,400 per month. I'm four years away from Medicare, and my wife is still six years out. If not for Obamacare we'd be totally lost, since COBRA is only good for 18 months. My wife and I have worked hard all our lives, paid our full taxes, and put aside for our retirement. The only thing we did wrong was grow old. We're not looking for free healthcare just affordable and obtainable." Bobbie G. Age:65, Medicare, CA, USA I just got my letter from Social Security confirming I have Medicare YAY! I didn't realize just how much of a relief it is to know that if anything major happens I have at least 80 percent coverage. For the past five years, I have just prayed nothing major would happen. I have put off things, like mammograms and any other optional screenings like a colonoscopy, that I was supposed to have rechecked. One of the things I let go when I didn't have medical coverage was my thyroid check-ups and medicine because I was on such a low dose. The slowdown of my energy happened over a long time before I noticed I just didn't have much energy. When I finally got it checked, my thyroid levels were so low my doctor called me immediately and had me go get the thyroid medication that day. Thank God now I have my life back! Now that I have Medicare, I will be getting a complete physical that I heard they offer when you first sign up, to see where I am at medically. Now the next hurdle is to figure out this crazy insurance maze for a Medicare supplemental insurance policy. Which should I get? What is available and practical in our small town? Should I get Part D drug supplemental when I hardly take any medications now but could need it later? I am a masters-level college-educated person, and it boggles my brain. The bad news is that insurance companies, as usual, will be charging more every year I get older for any supplemental coverage. What happens when my income is not enough to pay for the supplemental when I most need it? Still I am happy to have at least this much coverage.
Age:42, Medicaid, MN, USA My battle to maintain health care coverage began when I got thyroid cancer in 2006. I had just switched into a new job as a temp, which did not offer benefits, forcing me to pay over $600 a month to cover myself under COBRA. The job was supposed to become permanent with benefits. However, it abruptly ended when the company was bought out, leaving me without a job and insurance. This has been difficult because I was unable to get the medical care necessary to confirm that I was cancer-free. So, for years I have worried and wondered. I am a mother of two daughters, one of whom is 20 and the other who is 15; both are on my ex's insurance policy. My husband, like me, has been uninsured since we began a nonprofit recently, and we cannot offer health insurance benefits yet. I finally got Minnesota Medical Assistance Insurance in October of 2012 and was able to get the medical care I needed. I am cancer-free and finally insured. I'm also very grateful that the changes in our healthcare system have made it possible for my oldest daughter to remain on her father's insurance plan and that there will be options for her to find affordable health care when she is done with college.
Age:53, Buy on my own, VA, USA I lost my group plan coverage when I was laid off from my job in spring of 2010. Since then, I have been on an individual plan, the only one I can afford. My new employer is a small business, and does not offer ANY benefits. My medical policy premium costs about $325 per month. It also has a $2,500 deductible, which amounts to about 3 weeks worth of my take-home pay. And it means I will have to pay for a significant portion of expenses pertaining to my upcoming knee surgery.
Age:58, Buy on my own, NC, USA I am a retired Florida trooper, age 58 too young for Medicare. I am still on Florida State self-insured BCBS but have to pay entire premium (family coverage for just me and my wife) of $1,329 per month, which is one-fourth of my gross monthly pension! I need relief. Wife does not have a job. I live in NC now. I also teach for three universities online as adjunct and have no other insurance options. Will I be able to purchase less expensive insurance through the exchange?
Age:54, None, NC, USA I've been uninsured now for over five years after starting my own business and learning that health insurance was totally unaffordable or unavailable. In spite of not having health insurance, I have had some access to health care part of that time over the last few years, through a local program administered by a nonprofit in which doctors donate a certain amount of time and services. So, when I was diagnosed with diabetes, my doctor visits were covered but not supplies. Another nonprofit covers some of my prescriptions, but still no supplies no CPAP equipment, no cartilage injections. And one year, I was too poor and wasn't covered at all, as they assumed I was lying about my income because "no one can live on what you reported." I wasn't covered when my knee gave out and I went to the ER at the public hospital, where they don't ask your income, just if you are insured. I was responsible for the full amount which in my case was $900. But, life is good, and it looks like I may get coverage later this year and finally have regular access to medical care. Though I've been uninsured, I've been able to find some options for assistance, but I wonder what happens to people who don't have the education and wherewithal to negotiate these systems?
Age:29, Buy on my own, KS, USA My husband works full-time and I work part-time; I am a homemaker the rest of the time. We have a 3-year-old daughter and want to have another child. My husband's insurance through work is free for him, but to add me and my daughter, the premium would be about $1,000 a month. I looked for private insurance online to cover myself and my child, and I found a few decent options, though all had pretty high deductibles, and most didn't cover maternity care. The few policies that did cover maternity had premiums ranging from about $200 to $560 a month and some had high deductibles ($7,500 to $15,000)! It became apparent that we would not be able to afford a second child unless my husband found a different job with better benefits, though he is happy with his current job. When the ACA came through, it gave me hope. Maybe my husband won't have to worry about finding a new job. Maybe we can try for another baby next year. I'm so anxious to see if the new law is really going to help us. I hope it'll be ready by October and that my state (Kansas) won't do anything to make it less effective.
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Why We Are Doing This
To help you understand a complicated new law
The new health law (aka the Affordable Care Act) is the biggest change in the American health care system in more than a generation. We’ve created the Health Law Helper to give consumers accurate and unbiased information about this complex new law and how it affects them.
Health Law Helper is an informational tool designed for individual consumers. It incorporates the best information Consumer Reports has about the federal healthcare law's impact on consumers. Consumer Reports and its publishers, licensors and any suppliers cannot be responsible for errors or omissions, or any consequences arising from your use of Health Law Helper.
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